ICON receives Equality Mark Certificate30-06-2016
“We are proud to award the Equality Mark certificate to ICON that hails from the ICT sector. This is recognition of the fact that the organization has made gender equality one of its values thus promoting the potential of all their employees irrespective of their gender or caring responsibilities.”
Ms. Renee Laiviera,
Commissioner and Acting Executive Director
National Commission for the Promotion of Equality
ICON is extremely honoured to announce that it has received the highly distinguished Equality Mark Certificate by promoting a philosophy and practical policies of gender equality in the workplace. This award, received from the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality, certifies ICON as an equal opportunities employer that demonstrates a real commitment towards best practices in the area of gender equality. This initiative was spearheaded by ICON’s Office Administrator and Equality Officer, Rachel Said. Determined that ICON would be accepted to receive the certificate, she worked meticulously to ensure all policies and practices within the company were equality proofed.
Leading by example has always been at the core of ICON’s vision. By demonstrating that the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of its employees are not determined by gender, ICON has once again proved why it is one of the leading companies in the ICT sector in Malta. On receiving this certificate, ICON has joined the ranks of just over 60 other Maltese companies that have also proved their dedication to the cause.
Nikki speaks about women in tech
ICON’s diligent and highly motivated digital marketing executive, Nikki Schinas, talks about her own personal experience with working in the ICT sector in Malta. For her, gender bias has never once been an issue at ICON.
ICON’s road to Equality Mark certification
Dr. Gege Gatt, director and deputy Equality Officer at ICON, holds a strong belief that gender equality is essential for both the human and the corporate aspect of any organization. Establishing an atmosphere where all employees feel equal and valued will allow them to flourish and develop their innovative abilities. Dr. Gatt gladly took some time to answer questions about the Equality Mark Certificate:
What motivated ICON to pursue the Equality Mark certification?
Women are still in a distinct minority in the technology workforce in Malta, with an even smaller proportion of female executives having corporate leadership roles. In contrast to this reality, research indicates that companies that do offer opportunities for female leadership roles benefit from increased profitability, innovation and return on investment. Clearly, progressing the careers of female employees is crucial in today’s economy. Malta has shown a lot of progression in the past few decades, however, there is still a long way to go before gender equality becomes integrated nationally.
At ICON we strive to be progressive, and as a result we are fortunate to have a team of accomplished women in our ranks. We are proud to say that our top-performing female employees work tirelessly to break the mould and prove that careers in ICT are not only for men.
We believe that there are ample opportunities for technology careers in Malta and ICON will encourage and support the upcoming generation by providing meaningful female role models who are leaders in technology. Acquiring the Equality Mark has allowed ICON to proceed further in this quest and demonstrate its commitment to the cause.
Is ICON seeking gender equality or all forms of equality?
As ICON grows its business to serve more international markets and more diverse users, we need a diversity of perspectives to serve our customers well. This mission is built on the foundation of a talented and diverse workforce with a focus on inclusion.
Therefore, ICON focuses on equal opportunities for all especially in status, rights and opportunities irrespective of gender, family responsibilities, sexual orientation, age, religion or belief, racial or ethnic origin, gender identity, gender expression or sexual characteristics
Was this ICON’s first step in establishing equality as a work principle?
ICON started the process to gain the ISO 9001:2008 certification some years ago. This certification works hand in hand with legal compliance, allowing for a deeper understanding of how statutory requirements affect the organisation and its clients. The ISO 9001:2008 journey presented ICON with an opportunity to analyse best practices and establish measures on how gender awareness in management can lead to enhanced quality.
Through this certification, ICON provided tools to help managers and staff overcome gender discrimination by:
- Recognising the different needs and motivations of men and women, and by so doing encouraging the highest quality of work from both.
- Being aware of gender stereotypes that hinder full recognition of the value of women in the workplace. This discrimination can start with the selection process and continue throughout professional life.
- Taking full advantage of gender difference by recognising the creativity that comes from diversity.
Our ISO9001:2008 certification recognised ICON as an ‘equal opportunity employer’ which will not discriminate, and will take affirmative measures to fight discrimination in employment, recruitment or career advancement.
In practical terms, how can ICON address diversity in its actions?
ICON has a set of VISION2020 objectives which act as guiding principles for its growth. A specific subset of this vision lays out a strategy to tackle inclusion and diversity.
Firstly, ICON works hard to widen its talent pool by not only limiting its hiring activity to the University of Malta. This allows us to meet candidates who may not have a formal education but whose potential is huge.
Secondly, we have installed an internship process which sees ICON receiving around six interns (generally from various European countries) into its team every year. This exposes new approaches to culture, identity and problem-solving.
Thirdly, ICON invests a considerable amount of money to promote its pro-diversity program on social and digital channels. We ran a successful campaign in March 2016 to celebrate female coders and push the message that ‘tech is not only for boys’. We have also worked with a number of local entities to support the development of this message through other channels.
Fourthly, whenever a new staff member joins ICON they undergo rigorous induction training and gender equality is part of this training. More so, our managers are proactive about welcoming women and we have published family friendly measures for all staff to benefit from, which support flexibility and better work-life balance. Beyond these measure we have specific policies which promote (and regulate) equality.
Lastly, we have sought to create an inclusive culture within ICON to allow any person to fit in even if he or she doesn’t match the typical stereotype or tech-mould. Through organised events and centrally managed programs we promote inclusion and integration to assist such individuals to build a career within ICON.
What are the problems that ICON faces when promoting gender equality?
In 2014 the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap report stated that it will take another 81 years for the world to close the economic gender gap. This is a touch statistic to accept especially when women account for half of the world’s workforce and 70% of global consumption demand.
In our view the business case is clear: the advancement of our female workforce is a key strategy for our success and a fairer representation of our customer base. We thus muster all our energy to resist any stereotypes and use only one metric for selection or development: merit.
Gap between male and female applicants
In the past five years, roughly 75% of CVs sent to ICON regarding job vacancies have been from male candidates. The lack of female candidates means that ICON simply can’t employ as many women as men. However, the women working at ICON have paved the way for future potential female candidates who hold the belief that technology jobs are for women too. We hope, in time, to close the gap between male and female applicants by encouraging more women to come forward and to never accept anything less than complete equality.